The Grammys Are Coming — These Nominees Have Something To Say

Bradley Cooper as Jack and Lady Gaga as Ally in A Star Is Born. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

By Andrea Gutierrez with Libby Denkmann, Hrishikesh Hirway, John Horn, and Jonathan Shifflett

The Grammys are this Sunday at 5 p.m. (thankfully not tape delayed here on the West Coast, huzzah!), and we've got some of the most insightful comments from this year's nominees. Check out these interviews from The Frame with Grammy nominees.

MARK RONSON

Nominated: Song of the Year, "Shallow" (from A Star Is Born); Best Dance Recording, "Electricity"; Best Song Written for Visual Media, "Shallow"

On working with Lady Gaga on "Shallow":

As a producer, you're just there to be a bouncing board. You kind of like throw a couplet. I think I probably had "surface" and "hurt us," because I was like, 'OK, I know where she's trying to go.'

JANELLE MONÁE

Nominated: Album of the Year, Dirty Computer & Best Music Video, "Pynk"

On the song "So Afraid," as discussed on the Song Exploder podcast:

I am this queer black woman, who grew up to working class parents, who every single day is reminded by those in the position of power that we don't care about women. I had to have more armor, because in this world that I'm growing up in, it's not always going to be safe for me.

DAVID BYRNE

Nominated: Alternative Music Album, American Utopia

On the diversity of his band:

I want to show the diversity of people that are out there, the people that make up this country, the racial diversity and sexual diversity and gender and everything else. We can be what it is we're talking about. We don't have to just talk about it. People can see it right in front of their eyes when they come to one of these shows.

H.E.R.

Nominated: Album of the Year, H.E.R.; Best New Artist; Best R&B Performance, "Best Part"; Best R&B Song, "Focus"; Best R&B Album, H.E.R.

On her stage name:

A lot of people say, 'Oh, we really don't know her. She's hiding.' But I always say I'm not hiding. If anything, you know more about me than you ever would within my music. You know, not knowing what I look like, it's all in the music. That is the most honest version of me.

LINDA PERRY

Nominated: Producer of the Year, Non-Classical

On the need for audio engineers who are women:

To me, the power position is the engineer. That person is really actually doing all the creative stuff and getting cool sounds and creating a beautiful sonic bed for people to perform their songs on. And that position is just not sexy. ... What we need to do is establish more of the women that are doing more of the technical side.

BOZ SCAGGS

Nominated: Best Contemporary Blues Album, Out of the Blues

On choosing songs to cover:

We naturally went to some of our heroes. I have my favorites — the formative influences, like Jimmy Reed, the stuff that some of us going up in Texas gravitated toward. We sort of took things apart and tried to find that groove and a song that would work. It's a process, and it was great fun.

MARY GAUTHIER

Nominated: Best Folk Album, Rifles and Rosary Beads

On working with military veterans:

Soldiers are trained not to be vulnerable, but when they come home, they've got to learn it. And part of telling the story is being uncomfortably vulnerable. But that's what songs do.

YUJA WANG

Nominated: Best Classical Instrumental Solo, "Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 2"

On her Apple Music playlists:

I do love jazz. I do love hip-hop. Hip-hop, it's like, I have to wake up to it. It's just too dramatic to get up with Tchaikovsky symphony. So I do listen to pop music and hip-hop to get in the mood. Sometimes I listen to that before my concerts as well. It's like a cup of coffee.

LOS TEXMANIACS

Nominated: Best Regional Mexican Album (incl. Tejano), Cruzando Borders

Max Baca on covering "The Deportee":

It was the right time, and all the political stuff that's been happening, with the wall and migrant farmworkers migrating to America — Texas, Colorado, California, Michigan, all the way up to North and South Dakota. I think this is a right time to do an album like that, with that concept of hardships.

THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA

Nominated: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, All About That Basie

Musical director Scotty Barnhart on keeping the Count Basie sound alive:

Clarence Banks, for example, is one of our trombonists, and he was the last musician actually hired by Basie. But when we were talking about different musics and different things to play, sometimes when I'm putting the setlist together, he'll remember something that they did. Some of the stuff that we play still isn't written down, you know. So every once in a while, we'll have something like that — he'll say, no, it needs to be this way, or needs to be that way.

EUGENE JARECKI

Nominated: Best Music Film, The King

On Elvis Presley's performance of "Unchained Melody," days before his death:

The voice of an angel would be a cliché. It's the voice of a thousand angels — and the voice of a thousand demons comes screaming out of him with all of the lossness and the compromised authenticity that he's experiencing.

Listen to this special Grammy preview on KPCC's The Frame podcast.